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Career profile Dentist

Also known as Associate Dentist, Dental Surgery Doctor (DDS), Dentist, Dentist/Owner, Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Family Dentist, General Dentist, General Dentist/Owner, Pediatric Dentist

Dentist

Also known as Associate Dentist, Dental Surgery Doctor (DDS), Dentist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Social
Pay Range
$81,060 - $208,000+ (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Reading Comprehension
Knowledge Areas
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Biology
Core tasks
  • Use masks, gloves, and safety glasses to protect patients and self from infectious diseases.
  • Examine teeth, gums, and related tissues, using dental instruments, x-rays, or other diagnostic equipment, to evaluate dental health, diagnose diseases or abnormalities, and plan appropriate treatments.
  • Administer anesthetics to limit the amount of pain experienced by patients during procedures.
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What does a Dentist do?

Dentists examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums.

In addition, Dentists

  • may treat diseases of nerve, pulp, and other dental tissues affecting oral hygiene and retention of teeth,
  • may fit dental appliances or provide preventive care.

What kind of tasks does a Dentist perform regularly?

Dentists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Use masks, gloves, and safety glasses to protect patients and self from infectious diseases.
  • Examine teeth, gums, and related tissues, using dental instruments, x-rays, or other diagnostic equipment, to evaluate dental health, diagnose diseases or abnormalities, and plan appropriate treatments.
  • Administer anesthetics to limit the amount of pain experienced by patients during procedures.
  • Use dental air turbines, hand instruments, dental appliances, or surgical implements.
  • Formulate plan of treatment for patient's teeth and mouth tissue.
  • Diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, or malformations of teeth, gums, or related oral structures and provide preventive or corrective services.
  • Write prescriptions for antibiotics or other medications.
  • Advise or instruct patients regarding preventive dental care, the causes and treatment of dental problems, or oral health care services.
  • Design, make, or fit prosthodontic appliances, such as space maintainers, bridges, or dentures, or write fabrication instructions or prescriptions for denturists or dental technicians.
  • Fill pulp chamber and canal with endodontic materials.
  • Treat exposure of pulp by pulp capping, removal of pulp from pulp chamber, or root canal, using dental instruments.
  • Remove diseased tissue, using surgical instruments.
  • Manage business aspects such as employing or supervising staff or handling paperwork or insurance claims.
  • Analyze or evaluate dental needs to determine changes or trends in patterns of dental disease.
  • Apply fluoride or sealants to teeth.
  • Eliminate irritating margins of fillings and correct occlusions, using dental instruments.
  • Perform oral or periodontal surgery on the jaw or mouth.
  • Plan, organize, or maintain dental health programs.
  • Bleach, clean, or polish teeth to restore natural color.
  • Produce or evaluate dental health educational materials.

The above responsibilities are specific to Dentists. More generally, Dentists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.

What is a Dentist salary?

The median salary for a Dentist is $158,940, and the average salary is $180,830. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Dentist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Dentists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Dentists earn less than $81,060 per year, 25% earn less than $115,290, 75% earn more than $208,000, and 90% earn more than $208,000.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Dentists is expected to change by 8.1%, and there should be roughly 4,300 open positions for Dentists every year.

Median annual salary
$158,940
Typical salary range
$81,060 - Over $208,000
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
8.1%

What personality traits are common among Dentists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Dentist are usually higher in their Investigative, Realistic, and Social interests.

Dentists typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Dentists typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Dentists typically have moderate Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Dentist tend to value Independence, Achievement, and Relationships.

Most importantly, Dentists very strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Dentists very strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Dentists very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Dentists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Dentists, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

What education and training do Dentists need?

Many Dentists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Dentists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Dentists

  • 2.5% earned a Master's degree
  • 97.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Dentists

Dentists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as medicine and dentistry, customer and personal service, or biology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Dentists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Biology
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Psychology
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Dentists

Dentists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Dentists need abilities such as problem sensitivity, finger dexterity, and deductive reasoning in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Dentists, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Finger Dexterity
The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

Critical Skills needed by Dentists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Dentists frequently use skills like critical thinking, judgment and decision making, and reading comprehension to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Dentists, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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